Exercise is undeniably one of the best things you could do for your body, not only for weight loss, but for increasing your cardiovascular and even mental health as well. Creating an exercise plan you can stick to is all about finding workouts you enjoy doing that don’t feel like a chore, but striking a balance between cardio and strength training has been highly regarded as one of the best combinations for a healthier body.
However, while cardio can be great for you, it also comes with a number of potential traps that could slow your weight loss progress or leave you more inclined to quit your fitness program altogether. Curious what the biggest cardio mistakes might be? We checked in with VFit Studio owner and CPT Rachele Jaegers to get the all the details on what *not* to do within your training plan.
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Mistake #1: Only Doing Cardio
While cardio does hold a vital role in improving your fitness level, working towards healthy weight loss, and boosting your mood, only prioritizing cardio within your routine may be working against your body in the long run. “Too much cardio can actually raise cortisol and cause you to store more fat,” explains Jaegers. “People think they have to do cardio all day, every day, and they’re forgetting the other parts of the fitness routine that are just as important, like building muscle and strength and rest and recovery and what you eat.”
Balancing cardio with strength training will ultimately make your workout plan more effective for fat burn, torching calories while also building up muscle which can help to improve your metabolism over time. “HIIT training for cardio such as Tabata 1-2 times a week is a great way to get some cardio. Mix up an endurance cardio workout with HIIT,” Jaegers adds.
Mistake #2: Only Doing One Type Of Cardio
The misconception that only one type of cardio will be effective for weight loss is one of the biggest mistakes to make within your fitness journey. In fact, switching up your training plan to incorporate varying forms of cardio can help to create a more balanced body, ultimately increasing your strength and endurance without getting bored. “If you run all the time and that’s all you do, you risk overuse injuries,” warns Jaegers. “Change out the cardio and change up the length of time,” she adds, noting that trying lower impact cardio exercises like swimming can also help to increase muscle strength while boosting fat burn.
Mistake #3: Choosing Cardio You Don’t Like
The quickest way to quit your new workout routine is by forcing your body into activities you don’t enjoy. That’s not to say you should never push yourself out of your comfort zone, but doing exercises you hate ultimately sets you up for failure in the long term. “One of the biggest mistakes is people force themselves to do cardio, and then it becomes punishment and they stop doing it all together,” says Jaegers. Instead, find a form of cardio you love, whether it be running, dancing, HIIT, or cycling. So long as you’re also incorporating some form of strength training into your weekly routine as well, finding a workout you love will make your exercise plan sustainable.
Mistake #4: Focusing Too Much On Calories
Achieving a calorie deficit is one of the essential pieces of actually seeing weight loss results, but putting too heavy of a focus on calories burned within your cardio workouts can have some significant implications on your body down the line. “One of the biggest mistakes is people way overdoing cardio because they look at the calories and then they don’t eat enough to compensate so they’re not filling their body with the proper food, protein, and hydration,” warns Jaegers. You have to remember, the calories you burn within your workout is only one part of the puzzle, and you’re constantly continuing to burn more as you go about your day. Overtraining will merely burn you out, put your body at risk for injury, and even cause your body to hold onto fat as over exercising causes a spike in cortisol as a means of protection.